Wes Craven: 1939-2015

The influential horror director, best known for A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, was 76.

by | August 30, 2015 | Comments

(Photo by Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

 

Wes Craven, the influential horror director behind such genre classics as A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, died Sunday, Aug. 30 after a battle with brain cancer. He was 76.

Craven’s films are among horror cinema’s most indelible and iconic. Freddy Krueger, whose blade-fingered reign of terror began in Craven’s 1984 classic A Nightmare on Elm Street, is arguably the definitive big-screen boogeyman of the 1980s, and his Scream films showed that Craven could juggle self-referential laughs with bone chilling scares.

Born in Cleveland in 1939, Craven worked as a professor at several colleges before getting a job as a sound engineer at a post-production company in New York City (he also worked on adult productions using a pseudonym). Craven’s first film was a major success; the low-budget proto-slasher movie The Last House on the Left was a brutal tale of murder and revenge that sparked controversy and threats of censorship as well as admiration for its uncommon intelligence (its story borrowed heavily from Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring). Craven went on to direct The Hills Have Eyes (1977), about a family of cannibals, and Swamp Thing (1982), based on the DC comics character, before hitting the jackpot with A Nightmare on Elm Street (featuring Johnny Depp in his big-screen debut).

In addition to his work in horror films, Craven also directed the 1999 drama Music of the Heart starring Meryl Streep as a violin teacher; and the Hitchcockian thriller Red Eye, starring Rachel McAdams as an airplane passenger trying to outwit a terrorist played by Cillian Murphy. Craven’s last directorial credit was Scream 4, though he was an executive producer on the 2015 Scream TV series. He is survived by his wife, Iya Labunka, and two children from a previous marriage.

Craven shared his Five Favorite Films with RT in 2009. For Craven’s complete filmography on Rotten Tomatoes, click here.

  • Jake Armistead

    RIP, I have enjoyed many films from him and love several.

  • This is a sad day for cinema. RIP Wes.

  • spacemandc

    I, for one, will NOT miss this man. I am a HUGE, HUGE fan of horror
    films BUT I never appreciated anything that this pretender ever produced (or
    directed). He did not add anything positive to the venerable and often misunderstood
    genre of horror cinema… He only provided ample examples of how NOT to make a
    horror movie and, thus, contributed even more to the misunderstanding of
    cinematic horror and its bad rap. Compared to the works of true artists like
    Val Lewton, Jacques Tourneur, Mario Bava and Alfred Hitchcock, the entire portfolio
    of Wes Craven is cheap, tawdry and completely artless…

    • Suraj Chatterjee

      a moron u r sir

      • spacemandc

        But, alas, not as big as u…

        • Dave

          I don’t think that you even know what you’re talking about! Only a true ignoramus say idiotic things such as yours! And watching one or two movies of Wes Craven’s doesn’t count as a person who knows him as a film maker! Wes Craven not only was more influential than Mario Bava but also revolutionized horror film making as we know it!

          • spacemandc

            Well, it’s obvious that I “don’t know what I’m talking about” since it’s also obvious that I don’t speak or write as well as “yours” do… The true stature of an
            artist can be gauged pretty accurately by the quality and intelligence of the
            people who are his fans… After reading your, and Suraj’s, comments, I rest my
            case…

          • Dave

            By sh-tting on someone’s grammar is always a clear sign that you don’t really have a case against Wes Craven except that you were speaking through your ass- a body part where there’s no brain whatsoever!

          • spacemandc

            Like I said, I rest my case… The more you talk/write the unintelligible nonsense that you’re saying/writing, the more you keep proving my point… If I were you I’d stop… You don’t know how foolish and immature you’re making yourself look… You have my sympathies bro’…

          • Dave

            Yeah, you’re so right, there’s nothing more immature than to smear someone else’s work during a memoriam!

        • Suraj Chatterjee

          Just pointing out how much of a moron u r. U obviously have issues with the man, but bashing him when he is down… And then defending ur own comments on a RIP page… Just saying ur one classy dude.

          • spacemandc

            Didn’t you see my apology? A dude with so much class like you’ve obviously got should have seen that right away and avoided putting his foot in his mouth…

          • Suraj Chatterjee

            LOL just replying to your last response to me no harm done. Did not read other comments, but u just proved u are absolute garbage for replying to this. Reply again and everyone will know u are an absolute child who has to have the last word. Go on say somin more

          • spacemandc

            Well, at the terrible risk of being labeled “absolute garbage” and an “absolute child” by you (I don’t know how I’ll ever get over the trauma of such devastatingly mature and cutting insults), I’m going to post this reply anyway… I also don’t believe that “everyone” gives a flying f*ck what you choose to call me nor is “everyone” even bothering to read these petty comments on this petty Website despite your megalomaniac view of yourself and your comments… All I have to say is that I was right to lump you and “Dave” together – you’re every bit as foolish and immature as he is and your own comments make you look so silly and childish that they don’t need any comments from me, so, despite the fact that “I have to have the last word” as you insist, this will be my last post here… So, you just keep your asinine comments comin’ and keep making an ass of yourself without my help…

          • Suraj Chatterjee

            Hey its just slang in this day. Also ur apology means nothing, not to mention ur argument towards other people. Ur first comment, literally was like spitting on his grave and then defending that u did in the first place. Just saying. From the comments I c, You will definitely not get any love when ur dead. karma is a bitch

          • Suraj Chatterjee

            Ur Defending ur very first post on this page. Literately seeing other directors go on to successful movies and careers that just did not do it for me it for me does feel cringinging. i know my sister and girlfriend liking stuff that i didnt like but other ppl enjoyed, including them. U just have no respect for what he made like it or not. You spat on a guys grave with ur first comment and than had the balls to keep defending ur self. I see all the comments now and realize they would just spit on ur grave, u will not be missed.

    • JEREMY

      Nobody will miss YOUR sorry ass when YOU die.
      More likely,I’ll go out and have a BBQ dinner to celebrate.
      I only regret you mother didn’t use birth control.

      • spacemandc

        Spoken like a true civilized human being… Again, the stature of an artist can be measured by the quality and intelligence of the people who are his fans…

        • spacemandc

          Hey, I know that what I posted here is controversial – some will agree with what I said and some won’t… That’s the point of it – it’s supposed to inspire an intelligent debate on the controversial work of this high profile “Hollywood personality.” I don’t like any of the stuff that he did and I gave my well-thought-out reasons why. Now, if you think I’m “all wet”, then, fine – say so in an equally intelligent and well-thought-out manner instead of just lashing out with profanity and mindless Neanderthalian grunts like, “when you die, I’m going to have a BBQ…” All you’re doing is just proving my point…

          • Dave

            And then when you die, we can all celebrate and have a barbecue too since you’re no more than a worthless troll! It’s like you were “forced” to watch Wes Craven movies! Common sense says that if you don’t like the very first movie you’ve seen of his then why watch more! Why not refrain from every movie Craven’s been credited on, troll!

          • spacemandc

            “Troll!” I’m a “troll!!!” And a “worthless” one at that… Holy cow! What a cutting (and devastatingly mature) insult! How will I ever get over the trauma of being called a “worthless troll???” LOL

          • Dave

            If you looked at the very first comment you posted, it’s initial intent was to smear Wes Craven’s name even though he’s done more for the horror community than you had ever done in your pathetic little life. You bring up Val Lewton, Jacques Tourneur, Mario Bava and Alfred Hitchcock, except that they’re all like dead, and that they had only done so much. And that during those times, they weren’t even allowed to do half as much as right now. So when other horror directors had passed, are you going to smear them too since they were not born during the golden age, troll?

      • Dave

        It’s too bad there’s no age limit for a child to log on here because you’re the perfect example of a troll!

    • Soupytwist

      Hey mate, do you honestly think this is the correct time for a post like this?

      • spacemandc

        O.K., ya’ got me there mate… I do apologize for the poor timing but I felt I had to say something after enduring so many years of his “films” and their media coverage.

        • Dave

          Actually, I don’t think you regretted your comments at all since everyone here knows that you’re no more than a child speaking through his ass! The perfect clown who loves horror films but doesn’t know what he’s talking about since you can’t even back up anything you had said! If you’re such an expert what kind of horror film had you done instead of acting like a child criticizing others!

          • spacemandc

            Geez, not only can you not speak or write correctly – you can’t even read correctly either… I didn’t say that I regretted my remarks… I said that I regretted the timing of the remarks… But why am I trying to explain something so simple to someone so stupid that he’ll never understand anyway…

          • Dave

            Okay, let me rephrase what I’ve just said then, if you regretted the timing of your remarks you still posted it, troll!

    • Rock Gnarly

      Are you really trying to compare Wes to ancient contemporaries like those examples? There was no horror film that scarred my child self to the core like the original Nightmare on Elm Street, for that, he gets a free pass from me forever. You sound like one these hipsters that doesn’t believe a good horror film existed after 1970. Your pretentiousness has you so far up your own ass you can get a good look at your tonsils.

      • spacemandc

        Not as good as the view you’re getting of yours…

        • Dave

          You sir, are a worthless troll! And instead of producing a proper argument, you would then attack people you don’t even know their grammar! Are you like even old enough to comment on here or something since children should be prohibited to comment if they’re doing nothing except troll!

          • spacemandc

            See below your other “brilliant” remarks…

          • Dave

            Attacking my grammar some more… trolling is what you do best since your mind is like a child!

    • Cinemascribe

      You sir are cheap and completely artless. Mr. Craven, however, was neither.

  • Peter Wint

    “Uncommon intelligence” in Last House on the Left? Hard to find a dumber movie

    • Dave

      Harder to find a much dumber person!

  • The original Scream is like my first love for horror films. RIP

  • Biji M.

    being a certain age, im very aware that i have always known the name Wes Craven. It is, or at least seems to be a name that you just… know. it’s a sad day for film fans.

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